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Bloomsbury Institutions


British Hospital for Mental Disorders and Brain Diseases

Also known as British Hospital for Functional Nervous Disorders/Forbes Winslow Memorial Hospital/Out-Patients’ Hospital for the Treatment of Mental Diseases/Paddington Clinic and Day Hospital/Paddington Centre for Psychotherapy


It was founded by Dr Lyttleton Stewart Forbes Winslow in 1890 (Burdett’s Hospitals and Charities, 1900) as a specialist hospital for the treatment of mental disorders in the poor

Forbes Winslow became notorious in 1895 for an interview he gave that year to the New York Times on the madness of genius, in particular because of his comments on Shakespeare and Sir Walter Scott (see ‘Scott Died an Imbecile,’ New York Times, 9 September 1895)

He was the son of Forbes Benignus Winslow, also a physician specialising in insanity, who had studied medicine at University College London (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography); one name of the Hospital, the Forbes Winslow Memorial, was chosen to memorialise Forbes Winslow senior (d. 1874), said by his son to have been the first person to recognise the need for such a Hospital

Its publicity material said that the Hospital’s aims were to treat the mental problems of the indigent poor, to treat mental disorders in their early stages, and finally to found a training school for those who wished to learn how to treat mental disorders, although this seems not to have been carried out

Its Secretary in the 1890s was William J. Whelan

A reprint from The Philanthropist of July 1893 used for publicity material by the Hospital claimed that “insanity is on the increase”, supposedly at just under 0.3% at the present time compared with less than 0.2% in 1859 (A/FWA/C/D/198/1, London Metropolitan Archives)

A staggering 89% of these were said to be from the poor classes targeted by the Hospital, which had had apparently treated 9000 patients in the three years it had been open (A/FWA/C/D/198/1, London Metropolitan Archives)

However, despite the apparent need for the institution, and its avowedly philanthropic aims, not everyone was convinced of its merits

The Charity Organisation Society refused to recommend it to the public; the draft of a report by its Secretary from 1894 claimed that it was not well managed, and its methods of raising money were “highly objectionable”; moreover, it had not been founded at the instance of any representative & authoritative body of responsible medical opinion” (Charles Loch, draft report, 25 October 1894, A/FWA/C/D/198/1, London Metropolitan Archives)

A further Charity Organisation Society report of 3 December 1894 said that “An application for a grant from the Hospital Sunday Fund was refused on the grounds of disproportionate cost of management” and several of the names on the Committee as featured in the Annual Report of 1893 were hard to track down, uninvolved, or even unaware that they were named as such! (A/FWA/C/D/198/1, London Metropolitan Archives)

The report also noted that “Its method of raising money by collections in the streets and at Railway Stations is highly objectionable” (A/FWA/C/D/198/1, London Metropolitan Archives)

Charles Loch was still recommending people not to give money to the Hospital on 8 July 1904, as there had been no improvements in its “financial and other defects” (A/FWA/C/D/198/2, London Metropolitan Archives)

He noted that it had not received a grant from either the Hospital Saturday Fund or the King Edward’s Hospital Fund, and on 12 July 1912 he advised another would-be donor not to give it any money (A/FWA/C/D/198/2, London Metropolitan Archives)

Another press cutting, taken from Truth, 10 December 1913, describes the Hospital as a “nuisance” charity (A/FWA/C/D/198/2, London Metropolitan Archives)

In a later cutting from the same journal, a description is given of a new form of fund-raising for the Hospital: séances, conducted under the supervision of “the Rev. Susannah Harris”, the famous American medium (Truth, 13 January 1915; A/FWA/C/D/198/2, London Metropolitan Archives)

The journal was scathing not about the idea of spiritualism in itself, nor even about Susanna Harris’s supposed powers, but instead about her gullibility at “permitt[ing] herself to be used as a source of income for the twopenny-halfpenny dispensary which masquerades as the British Hospital for Mental Disorders” (Truth, 13 January 1915; A/FWA/C/D/198/2, London Metropolitan Archives)

It no longer exists

The Paddington Centre for Psychotherapy has been replaced by the Parkside Clinic at the same premises

What was reforming about it?

It was one of the first psychiatric hospitals, and it was aimed at dispensing free psychiatric treatment to the poor

According to Forbes Winslow’s letter to The Times, written in December 1906, it was the only hospital of its kind; he thought it should be better known to The Times, which had recently published a series of articles on the subject of the treatment of lunacy (The Times, 2 January 1907)

He said that the Hospital had treated some 40,000 patients since its foundation and that patients were “sent from all parts of the kingdom” (The Times, 2 January 1907)

It also treated “children predisposed to mental disorders” (Burdett’s Hospitals and Charities, 1900)

Where in Bloomsbury

It apparently began in “a very modest building” in Euston Square, but grew so rapidly that it soon had to move to 208 Euston Road (New York Sun, March 1891)

It was still at 208 Euston Road in 1897 (Whitaker’s Almanack, 1897)

By 1913 it had moved to 72 Camden Road and it subsequently (around the late 1950s) became known as the Camden Clinic

It was later amalgamated with the West End Hospital for Nervous Diseases and the Paddington Hospital to become the Paddington Clinic and Day Hospital (Hugh Freeman, obituary of Ismond Rosen, Psychiatric Bulletin, vol. 21, 1997)

This later became the Paddington Centre for Psychotherapy, located in Notting Hill

Website of current institution

It no longer exists

The successor institution is the The Parkside Clinic, part of the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (opens in new window)

Books about it

None found


Some records relating to its investigation by the Charity Organisation Society (Family Welfare Association) are held at the London Metropolitan Archives, ref. A/FWA/C/D/198/001 (1894) and A/FWA/C/D/198/002 (1895–1927)

Other records also held at the London Metropolitan Archives, ref. A/KE/735/41/1, are reports of Paddington Group Hospital Management Committee on the British Hospital for Functional and Nervous Disorders, among others (1949–1959); but these contain no details about the history of the institution

The records of the Paddington Centre for Psychotherapy are held at the National Archives, Kew, ref. E/850; these may include some records of the British Hospital for Mental Disorders and Brain Diseases

This page last modified 13 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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